There is a new football manager in town, and Malvern is welcoming him with open arms.
This year Malvern Prep welcomed a new manager to the football team. Grayson Mease, 18, has never been a part of a sports team in his life. This year, he and the Malvern football team are learning from each other.
Mease, 18, is living with high-functioning autism (HFA). WebMD states that for HFA, “the signs and symptoms are less severe than with other forms of autism.” A person with HFA usually has average or above-average intelligence.
Many psychiatrists consider HFA as similar to or the same as Asperger’s syndrome. Children with HFA often have language delays early on like other children with autism.
According to CNN.com one out of every sixty-eight children in the United States are diagnosed with autism.
Head Football Coach Mr. Aaron Brady believes the football players can learn a lot from Mease. He thinks it is a unique opportunity to welcome someone outside of Malvern community into the brotherhood.
Mease is also benefiting from the experience himself, as he is making new friends, according to Brady.
“Grayson is living proof that you can overcome a disability,” Brady said.
Mease has become a huge part of the Malvern football team and does many important tasks for the team. Quarterback coach Mr. Sam Mora said, “Grayson does a number of things. He helps toss footballs for certain drills. He tags around with me a lot on defense days because the quarterbacks are doing individual stuff.”
“Grayson also snaps to the quarterbacks,” Mora said. “Grayson has also recently been helping out with the special teams. When we kick field goals and extra points he will stand back there and he will actually field the kicks.”
As the season goes on Mease is getting to do more and more from the team. “Grayson runs out right before the game with the team. He breaks us down in practice occasionally. He even got his first “W” at the Gilman game,” Mora said.
Mease became affiliated with Malvern Prep through one of the parents at the school. Mrs. Gloria Satriale, parent of freshman Mario Satriale, has an older son with autism. Satriale entered her son into a program for people with autism called PAAL (Preparing Adolescents & Adults for Life).
According to PAAL’s website, it is a specialty secondary-educational program for adolescents with moderate to severe autism between the ages of 14 and 21, which establishes a professional collaboration between the educational system, families, and the community-at-large.
Eric Shindledecker is Mease’s primary teacher at PAAL. “We were looking for a social thing that Grayson could get into, we thought it would be a great idea to have Grayson manage the team and get some peer to peer interaction which would help with some of the social goals that we have set for him,” Shindledecker said.
The PAAL program has successfully run for many years and is a major part of Grayson’s life, according to Brady.
“Grayson is having a great time, and the team is being incredibly nice and welcoming, he really feels accepted,” Shindledecker said. “He just asked me yesterday if he could manage baseball once football season is over.”
Ryan Logan, a fellow manager on the football team is enjoying the experience of working with Mease.
“Grayson has always wanted to be part of a team, and thanks to Malvern along with Coach Brady, he has been given this opportunity,” Logan said. “Now as a member of the team it makes him feel special, as he has never been able to be in society, socializing like Malvern kids do.”
Mease will continue to contribute to the Malvern football team as he looks forward to going to his first away game in the coming weeks.